There are a lot of food choices for us to make and choosing the right diet for you can feel a little overwhelming at times. To help you sort through the noise and get you off on the right track, I’ve outlined four great diets worth considering.
- The Paleo Diet
- The Low FODMAP Diet
- The Specific Carbohydrate Diet – SCD
- The Mediterranean Diet
Each of these are great for different reasons. You may even find you feel your best when you take elements from each and combine them to make your own personal plan. Fortunately, once you have a good idea which diet is best for you and your personal goals there’s mountains of information online. With each diet, I’ll be sure to point you in the right direction if you’d like to learn more.
I encourage you to take what works for you and leave the rest. I believe being too restrictive or paranoid can zap the joy from eating – it’s important to enjoy your food and keep the fun in eating. The good news is all of these diets include fulfilling, delicious food, which is how it should be. Keep in mind, everyone is different and it’s all about finding what works for you.
The Paleo Diet
Overview: The Paleo Diet is more of a lifestyle that focuses on eating as our ancestors would. This means eliminating processed food and focusing on whole, nutrient-dense foods.
Core principles: The Paleo Diet emphasizes diverse proteins sources, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and minimal human interference whether it be through cooking, processing, or otherwise. Bread, pasta, cereal, and gluten is generally shunned by those who eat Paleo. The Paleo Diet has the reputation of being heavily meat focused, but I’d argue that this is an inaccurate stereotype. It’s possible to eat a more plant-focused Paleo diet.
Health benefits: Eating Paleo has numerous health benefits including balanced blood sugar (you’re less likely to get hangry), clearer skin, lower inflammation, and reduces risk for many diseases.
Who is the Paleo diet good for? Pretty much everyone would benefit from eating Paleo. This diet incorporates so many different foods it’s also easier to maintain than a lot of other diets.
Quality resources: If you want to learn more about the Paleo diet, I recommend checking out Robb Wolf.
The Low FODMAP Diet
Overview: The Low FODMAP Diet refers to reducing certain sugars that often cause gastrointestinal problems. These are Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols, which are common in many foods we eat.
Core principles: This diet is not a long-term diet but instead something that can be used as an effective gut reboot. The Low FODMAP Diet is very effective at returning balance to the gut microbiome quickly and in many people reduces frustrating digestive symptoms. FODMAPs are difficult for nearly everyone to digest but give some people more trouble than others. You might be surprised to learn that FODMAPs are in many foods we consider healthy, such as:
Health benefits: The Low FODMAP Diet is great to try if you’ve been struggling with gas and bloating or irritable bowel syndrome. Reducing your FODMAPs may or may not solve your problems but it’s worth a try. FODMAPs give a lot of people trouble so there’s a good chance this diet will work out well for you.
Who is the Low FODMAP Diet good for? The low FODMAP Diet is usually recommended to those who have persistent digestive issues. When I have a patient who can’t seem to shake bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms, I generally recommend the Low FODMAP Diet.
Quality resources: Here’s a great guide from the Gastroenterological Society of Australia.
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet – SCD
Overview: The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is a diet that restricts common carbohydrate sources and is recommended to those with digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth.
Core principles: The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is similar to the low FODMAP diet in that it also focuses on eliminating certain carbohydrates that are notoriously difficult for us to digest. In general, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is less restrictive than the Low FODMAP Diet. On the Specific Carbohydrate Diet you can have honey, dairy, and certain vegetables that are restricted on the Low FODMAP Diet.
Health benefits: This is another diet for those struggling with gastrointestinal problems or those who are sensitive to certain carbohydrates.
Who is the SCD diet good for? The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is another diet that I sometimes recommend when a patient is suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or from similar symptoms.
Quality resources: The SCD Lifestyle is a website full of helpful information.
The Mediterranean Diet
Overview: The Mediterranean Diet focuses on eating like those who live in the Mediterranean, which emphasizes vegetables, olive oil, fish, poultry, whole grains and legumes.
Core principles: The Mediterranean Diet is similar to the Paleo Diet in that it focuses on nutrient-dense whole foods but it favors fish and poultry over red meat and allows some whole grains. The Mediterranean Diet does not include processed foods and sugars.
Health benefits: The Mediterranean Diet has been associated with reduced risk for disease (especially heart disease) and improved cognitive health.
Who is the Mediterranean diet good for? Nearly everyone would benefit from eating a Mediterranean Diet. Some people may find they feel better on either a Mediterranean Diet or a Paleo Diet, it just depends on your body.
Quality resources: Here’s a great beginner’s guide to The Mediterranean Diet.
Achieve Your Best Health with the Right Diet
Eating for healthy gut has never been easier. Sure, there’s a lot of information available but we know so much more about our health and how food affects us than ever before. Use this guide as a starting point, take it slow, and see what works for you.
Share this article with a friend or family member who isn’t sure which diet is best for them. They might be surprised to find out how many options there are to improve their health!
If you’re struggling to get your gut health on track, there’s no need to suffer unnecessarily – you can request an appointment here or call (210) 615-8308. Together we can find exactly what your gut needs for your best health!